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E04443: Gregory the Great, in his Dialogues (3.3), describes how *Agapitus I (bishop of Rome, ob. 536, S00811) cured a man who could neither walk nor speak through the intervention of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036). Written in Latin in Rome, c. 593.

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posted on 07.12.2017, 00:00 by frances
Gregory the Great, Dialogues 3.3

Summary:

When travelling to visit the Emperor Justinian I (r. 527-565), Agapitus passed through Greece. The relatives of a man who could not walk or speak asked Agapitus to intervene. He asked whether they thought he was able to help. They answered that they did, because his cure would be based on the power of God and the authority of Peter. Agapitus prayed and celebrated mass. When he had done so, he raised the man to his feet. He then placed the host on his tongue, causing him to speak. Gregory states that this was done:

in uirtute domini ex adiutorio petri.

‘by the power of the Lord and the intercession of St Peter’.

Text: de Vogüé 1978. Translation: Zimmerman 1959. Summary: Frances Trzeciak.

History

Evidence ID

E04443

Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Agapitus, bishop of Rome, ob. 536 : S00811

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Agapitus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

590

Evidence not after

604

Activity not before

535

Activity not after

536

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Rome

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory the Great (pope)

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Eucharist associated with cult

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miraculous power through intermediary Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - Popes

Source

Gregory the Great (Pope, 590-604) wrote his Dialogues on the Lives and Miracles of the Italian Fathers (Dialogi de vita et miraculis patrum italicorum) in Rome around 593. Organised into four books, the first three are a collection of lives and miracles of various Italian saints. The longest is the Life of Benedict of Nursia, which comprises the entirety of book 2. The final book consists of an essay on the immortality of souls after death. As a whole, the work documents and explains the presence of the miraculous in the contemporary world and the ability of saints to effect miracles both before and after death. The attribution of the Dialogues to Gregory has been disputed, most recently by Francis Clark who argued that the work was created in the 680s in Rome. Others - such as Adalbert de Vogüé, Paul Meyvaert and Matthew dal Santo - have, however, strongly argued for Gregory's authorship and it is broadly accepted that Gregory was responsible for the Dialogues. For a discussion of Gregory's devotion in writing the Dialogues, see E04383, and for the role of the Dialogues as a tract justifying the nature of miracles and theorising on the immortality of souls, see E04506. Gregory's principal aim in collecting the miracle stories of the holy men and a very few women of sixth-century Italy was to show the presence of God's power on earth as manifested through them, rather than to encourage the cult of these individuals. Indeed, though posthumous miracles at the graves of a few individuals are recorded (and also a few miracles aided by contact relics of dead saints), there is very little emphasis in the Dialogues on posthumous cult; some of the miraculous events that Gregory records (e.g. E04429) are not even attributed to named individuals. Although very few of the holy persons in the Dialogues are 'proper' saints, with long-term cult, we have included them all in our database, for the sake of completeness and as an illustration of the impossibility of dividing 'proper' saints from more 'ordinary' holy individuals.

Discussion

This passage provides an interesting comment on the nature of miracles. For more on this, see E04506.

Bibliography

Edition: Vogüé, A. de, Grégoire le Grand, Dialogues, Sources chrétiennes 260 (Paris: Cerf, 1979). Translation: Zimmerman, O.J., Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great, Fathers of the Church 39 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1959). Further Reading: Clark, F.,The 'Gregorian' Dialogues and the Origins of Benedictine Monasticism (Leiden: Brill, 2003). Dal Santo, M., "The Shadow of A Doubt? A Note on the Dialogues and Registrum Epistolarum of Pope Gregory the Great (590–604)," Journal of Ecclesiatical History, 61.1, (2010), 3-17. Meyvaert, P., "The Enigma of Gregory the Great’s Dialogues: A Reply to Francis Clark," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 39 (1988), 335–81. Vogüé, A. de, "Grégoire le Grand et ses Dialogues d’après deux ouvrages récents," Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 83 (1988), 281–348.

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